Close on the heels of SpicyIP’s new logo, there’s spicy news that a Mumbai banner – Mirchi Movies (and I shan’t make things more obvious) – has been sued for IPR violations by Warner Brothers over the choice of title of its children’s film, Hari Puttar — A Comedy of Terrors, for being too similar to its “Harry Potter” franchise.
The Mumbai studio is particularly concerned over why WB should have chosen to sue a fortnight before the release, when the title Hari Puttar had been registered way back in 2005.
Some of you may recall the Durga Puja drama about the Hogwarts Castle-pandal from last year, where although the injunction was in Warner Bros’ favour, the pandal was allowed to keep standing. In that case, the structure was an acknowledged reproduction of the imaginary castle, and therefore a challenge was more understandable. in this Hari Puttar lawsuit, there is little to defend apart from a syllabic similarity. The Indian film’s characters apparently bears no resemblance to Rowling’s creations. In fact, there are suggestions that the film looks more like an Indian-ised version of Macaulay Culkin’s Home Alone films.
The time period of filing the suit was also similar – just a few days/weeks before the Puja celebrations (in this case, a few weeks before the film release). It is possible that this is strategising on WB’s part ensure that ownership over the franchise is made abundantly clear, and a signal to show that vigilance continues. Otherwise, the suit itself appears to be weak, particularly when considering the cultural prevalence of both “Hari” (a popular given name) and “puttar” (a colloquial north-Indian term for “child”) in the country. Unless, of course, they are suing for something deeper than that… which a Harry Potter non-fan such as self (yes, our ilk does exist!) wouldn’t understand anyway.